The Humanism of Media Ecology is an address given by Neil Postman regarding the evolution of media and the the implications it has on society. Postman states the fundamental principle of media ecology: ” a medium is a technology within the which a culture grows; that is to say, it gives form to a culture’s politics, social organization, and habitual ways of thinking (p.10).” The speaker further elaborates on the evolution of media and the way society has been molded as a response. Reactions to new media are not always welcomed. Postman poses a series of questions to the audience in regards to the way society reacts to new media.
Addressing the first question proposed in the reading; “To what extent does a medium contribute to the uses and development of rational thought (p.13),” Postman explains that mediums including writing and print should be praised for encouraging development and rational thought, while TV should be feared for not doing so (p.13). Media is an important sphere of human development and provided society with ideas including religious freedom , freedom of speech and the abomination of slavery.
Postman believes that the abundance of information that is provided to individuals causes a distraction and moral deficit, deluding the individual thought process (p.15). He does not believe that mediums such as the internet, with the abundance of information it provides is the solution to the world’s problems.
Postman also discusses the extent to which new media enhances or diminishes our moral sense and capacity for goodness (p.15). He points to the devastating events of the 20th century including the Holocaust and Fascism and comments that during this time period the biggest advances and technology were made. Does this then point to technology for playing a role in these events?
In reading this passage I found it most difficult to wrap my mind the reading as a whole. I had some trouble grasping his concepts and didn’t feel as though I fully understood all his arguments, including his belief that technology diminishes our moral sense. Some parts it was difficult to decipher which side of the fence he was standing on or what side he was supporting.
Appropriate discussion questions stemming from this reading include:
1. Has the evolution of media diminished our moral sense?
2. What is Postman’s main message he is trying to deliver?
3.What does David Riesman mean when he says, “Print is the gunpowder of the mind.” Does this play into our discussions last week of cyborgs and technology as an extension of ourselves.
This week’s reading has allowed me to think more critically about the evolution of media and the impact it plays on the development of society. I was most intrigued by Riesman’s quote stated above and feel as though it is an interesting thought to explore in regards to our lecture last week.